06/20/2016 2:26PM

Tepin none the worse for wear after Ascot tour de force


Norm Casse was ready for a nap at midmorning Monday, his internal clock still off a tick after spending close to two weeks in England. But the horse with whom he traveled overseas, Tepin, has shown no such lingering malaise after a memorable win June 14 in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

“I’ve been tired the two days since I got back, but the days I was there after the race, she didn’t seem tired at all,” said Casse, assistant to his father, trainer Mark Casse. “I don’t know what to tell you – she’s pretty special.”

Tepin was to arrive back in the U.S. sometime Tuesday along with her traveling companion, Miss Temple City, who finished a creditable fourth in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes. Tepin will spend a few days quarantined in New York before rejoining the string overseen by Norm Casse at Churchill Downs. She’ll travel to Saratoga but is unlikely to start there, with the Casses and owner Robert Masterson circling the Woodbine Mile on Sept. 17 as Tepin’s likely stepping-stone to the Breeders’ Cup Mile, which Tepin won last fall.

“There’s really no timetable set, and we want to see how she comes out of this, but Woodbine is probably the goal,” Norm Casse said.

Casse said a trip to Dubai for the $6 million Dubai Turf next March will be seriously considered as long as Tepin continues to thrive.

“One race at a time, but I think Dubai is a realistic goal,” he said. “As of right now, she’s just as good as she’s ever been, and if we can keep her at this level, I can’t imagine Mr. Masterson stopping. He deserves all the credit for picking out the Ascot race. It was all his idea.”

Tepin shipped overseas like an old hand, settling easily into the stables at Lambourn, never missing an oat, and training comfortably with Miss Temple City for several days before she raced. Rain came to Ascot days before the Queen Anne, turning the course soft and adding another hurdle for Tepin, who was taking on males and racing down a straight course for the first time. Tepin handled it all, winning the Queen Anne despite disliking the soft going, jockey Julien Leparoux told Casse.

“This horse, since she won the Breeders’ Cup, every time she’s run, the week before I have this huge pit in my stomach,” said Casse, who has overseen Tepin’s day-to-day care for more than a year. “I don’t want to let her down, let Mr. Masterson down, let her fans down, but I never felt scared over there. No matter what would have happened, I think people would have congratulated us, said thank you for coming over, and there wasn’t that huge pressure. That being said, I’ve never experienced such euphoria winning a race. It was almost like an out-of-body experience, even better than the Breeders’ Cup.”

Meanwhile, the other American-based star of the Royal Ascot meeting, Lady Aurelia, has returned to Keeneland, where she’ll be based until another overseas trip for the Group 1 Prix Morny on Aug. 21 at Deauville in France, trainer Wesley Ward said. Ward won the 2013 Morny with No Nay Never.

Lady Aurelia stunned Royal Ascot by winning the five-furlong Queen Mary Stakes by seven lengths, a performance widely hailed as the best from a 2-year-old in the meeting’s modern history.

“I actually expected her to run like that, but to actually watch her do it – those are two different things,” Ward said. “This can be a game of great disappointment.”

Ward said Lady Aurelia exited the Queen Mary fresh and ready for more racing. Lady Aurelia won her debut on dirt at Keeneland and could return to dirt, Ward said, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Miss Temple City came out of her race in good shape, trainer Graham Motion said. She was beaten a length and a nose for second in a race dominated by the very talented Usherette. Miss Temple City carried a five-pound penalty as a Grade 1 winner and raced over turf that was wetter than she prefers. Motion said Miss Temple City, if she continues to do well, is likely to start next in the Ballston Spa or the Diana at Saratoga or the Clement Hirsch at Del Mar.